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Love Illuminated
Exploring Life's Most Mystifying Subject (with the Help of 50,000 Strangers)
Daniel Jones

William Morrow
February 2014 / ISBN 978-0062211163
Nonfiction / Self-Help

Reviewed by Leslie Halpern


As editor of the "Modern Love" column for The New York Times, the author calls upon his experience with his advice-seeking letter writers, plus his own long-term marriage to draw conclusions about love. Although readers are unlikely to experience any life-changing epiphanies while perusing these pages, they will enjoy 209 entertaining pages of observations on love in the computer age. That's the key to getting the most out of this book: the anecdotes from real-life couples and descriptions of their problems are observational rather than analytical.

The ten chapter titles progress logically beginning with "Pursuit" and concluding with "Wisdom." Additional chapters explore vulnerability and connection at a time when most of us can hide behind a computer screen, username, online personality, and fake photograph, and other issues including trust, an area where even the most intelligent and educated can make calamitous mistakes, as in the cited case of an elderly egomaniac who believes an international supermodel has fallen desperately in love with him. The author doesn't forget about monotony, infidelity, or loyalty, which also have chapters devoted to them.

Regular readers of Jones's column should enjoy reading the highlights of his letters received over the years, and those unfamiliar with the column can also benefit from these stories and observations. The author's modern take on romance, e.g., "soul mate in a box" and "booty grazing" keeps the text relevant, and his witty writing style livens up even the oldest topics. For instance, when he writes about sexual chemistry among ex-spouses: " has confirmed you have chemistry. Or had chemistry. Before the two of you blew up the lab."

With humor and compassion, Love Illuminated provides an intriguing exploration of love through the eyes of a journalist and thousands of letter-writers over the years.

Reviewed 2014